The Mayor will be setting off to help the England bid for the 2018 World Cup and it would indeed be a major achievement to host it again, something which is long overdue on our shores. In the meantime, I’ve been asking a number of questions about what it’s costing Londoners. For example, I asked what the Mayor offered Sepp Blatter when he passed through City Hall on the 13th of October? and what liabilities had he agreed to behalf of London? However, as you’ll note from these links to my questions, the responses have been less then satisfactory.
I’ve been able to glean a better picture from other sources about the real cost to Londoners of bidding. For example, the Mayoral approval of the London bid does not mention that there is a £250,000 payment to the FA as a host city contribution to the cost of promoting the bid to FIFA. Further, in the event of being successful, it is also estimated that host city costs will amount to a sum in the region of £15m! This is made up of the following estimated costs – fan fest sites of £2.9 m, live sites at £600k and other host city costs at £11.4m. It is very surprising that other Cities like Derby and Plymouth have been able to quantify all of this but not the GLA in the Mayoral sign off of this decision.
Having also had a look now at a Host City Agreement, there are potentially many onerous conditions. Now don’t get me wrong, l’m very keen to see the World Cup brought to London, but l do think the Mayor should have been more open about these onerous conditions and the financial costs that local and regional government would have to bear, in particular, those on London Councils. The ones that stand out include logistical issues like transport, management and outdoor advertising, and not least FIFA being exempt from any local taxes! This on top of the host city having to underwrite all costs to fulfil its obligations as defined by FIFA which can be subject to change. Can you imagine, FIFA insisting that 24 hour drinking licenses be granted and that Heathrow stays open all night and that whilst ticket holders get free public transport on matchdays, the cost will fall on TFL (and thus Londoners) who will be receiving no extra revenue.
Football is a global business and we have to be clear what we are incurring on behalf of all of our citizens and not just those of us who are footie fans. We must remember that FIFA made some £3billion from the last World Cup in South Africa and therefore, is well placed to pick up the tab on behalf of local and regional goverment in the event that we are successful. I trust (and hope!) that if we are signing up to the Host City Agreement at the end of the week, that all of these considerations are made clear.